No entry into Durga Puja pandals, says High Court in view of COVID-19

The Calcutta High Court on Monday said that people cannot enter Durga Puja pandals across the state in view of COVID-19 this year. All pandals must be barricaded and must be considered “No Entry zones”. People cannot go beyond five metre for small pandals and cannot go beyond 10 metre for big pandals. Pandals must have the words “No Entry” displayed.

The pandal itself can have 15-25 persons each; but these people who have access inside, will be the organisers. A list of all persons to be present within the pandal premises must be submitted before the government, and this list cannot be altered.

Approximately 34,000 Durga Puja committees organise “barowari” or publicly organised Durga Puja across the state. The restrictions will be applicable for all.

Durga Puja committees have been offered cash incentives by the state government this year in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. A petition was filed in the Calcutta High Court, challenging the order. The court has earlier said that majority of the funds offered by the state government must be used for following COVID-19 protocols and the rest is to be used for coordinating with the police authorities for crowd management and control.

On Monday, the Calcutta High Court further adding that pandals will be “No Entry” zones, added a new dimension to the Durga Puja this year due to the pandemic. The Kolkata Police Commissioner and the state Director General of Police have been asked to inform the court after the Durga Puja in an affidavit as to whether these instructions were adhered to.

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